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Viticulture

Bronze Mask of a SatyrWine production and consumption have held an important place in Georgian culture and history for centuries. Jars dating to the 6th millennium BC have been discovered at Shulaveri in south eastern Georgia, with the residue of wine still preserved on their inner surfaces. These provide some of the earliest evidence of the consumption of wine in ancient societies. Grape pips dating from the 7th to the 5th millennium BC found at the same site also suggest the very early cultivation of vineyards in ancient Georgia.

Both locally produced and imported vessels were found in the graves at Vani; often side by side within the same grave. The inclusion of an imported vessel in a burial would indicate the wealth and status of the deceased.

Imports such as Attic kantharoi (drinking vessels) provide evidence of active commerce with mainland Greece; while silver vessels, such as situlae (buckets) and phialai (shallow drinking cups), show a strong stylistic connection from Persia. These vessels were often also made of precious materials, such as gold and silver.

Objects of this kind, found in graves, provide valuable information about local wine drinking practices. For example, the absence of larger containers, such as kraters, commonly used for mixing wine with water, suggests that wine was served in the Persian, rather than the Greek, manner; undiluted and in smaller situlae.

Wine vessels were also found in religious contexts at Vani. Examples include amphorae found in a small sanctuary near the city gate and in the sanctuary dedicated to viticulture and (by the Hellenistic period) to Dionysos.